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DIAMOND DAY: Eastside softball claims Newton Cup

COVINGTON, Ga. — At the conclusion of a sweltering hot Saturday, the Eastside Lady Eagles reigned victorious. The Lady Eagles defeated both in-county foes Newton and Alcovy to claim the 2023 Newton Cup. 

Head coach Heather Wood highlighted the significance of bringing home that hardware. 

“It’s always great to win against your crosstown rivals,” Wood said. “We always have a big crowd with parents and softball fans here. It’s great for the community. We’ll use this as momentum going into next week and region play.” 

Eastside downed Newton 9-3 and Alcovy 11-3. Multiple players produced to help Eastside earn both victories, too. 

Dezaria “Z” Johnson batted the most runs in with four RBIs and finished with a .571 average. Donee Morain had three RBIs on the day along with Eva Davis. 

- photo by Phillip B. Hubbard

Anslee Saunchegraw pitched in two RBIs with Allie Vaughn and Avery Jewell’s RBI apiece. Lila Whitmire had an inside-the-park home run as well. 

It wasn’t just the players’ bats to pave the way for the rivalry sweep. Eastside’s pitching assisted in a big way. 

Davis registered five innings pitched — all against Newton — while giving up one earned run and struck 10 batters out. Meanwhile, Johnson saw action in both matches. 

The senior ace went seven total innings and had a combined six strikeouts and surrendered three earned runs.

As a result of Saturday’s outcomes, the Lady Eagles improved to 6-2 overall and have now won four of their last five games. 

Wood has liked what she’s seen to this point, but recognized some things she wants her team to continue to work on. 

“We can do a better job — and we did today — with situational hitting and just situations on defense. And these are things we expect early on and something to be ready for,” Wood said. “I’ve felt like we’re already ahead of last year just because everyone’s returned for the most part from last season.” 

Of the six wins so far this year, two came in Region 8-AAAAA play. 

The Lady Eagles enjoyed a 7-1 triumph over Wind-Barrow in the region opener on Aug. 10. Seven days later, they downed Flowery Branch on the road 9-1. 

In between those two contests, Eastside suffered its only region loss to date in a 5-4 nailbiter at Jefferson on Aug. 15. 

On Aug. 24, the Lady Eagles produced their biggest win of 2023 so far by defeating Clarke Central 19-0. 

The Lady Eagles plan to keep pushing forward with region action resuming. 

“It’s about winning the series, not the individual games,” Wood said. 

“Every single week our region is tough. We’re really trying to embrace it. It’s only going to make us better. We’ve gotten off to a solid start. There are obviously things early in the season we still have to correct and be ready for the next round.” 

This week, Eastside will conclude its first round of Region 8-AAAAA games when defending region champs Loganville and Heritage come to town on Aug. 29 and 31, respectively. 

The second round of region games will begin on Sept. 5 at Winder-Barrow. 

Wood recognized the 2023 schedule as a tough one, but she has confidence her players are ready for the challenge. 

“We’re facing top 10 teams pretty much every week in Class AAAAA,” Wood said. “But I believe in this team and I think they’re capable of doing great things this season. I have no doubt we will stay on track.”